Oklahoma is a state that’s serious about hunting. With over 500,000 paid hunting license holders, it has the 10th most hunters of any state in the nation, all the more impressive considering it’s 28th in terms of population.
One of the reasons hunting is so popular in Oklahoma is the existence of extensive seasons as well as hunter-friendly regulations that fund competent conservation and wildlife management. To take advantage of this, know the Oklahoma deer hunting season dates for 2023 and the license requirements.
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Oklahoma 2023 Season Dates
Oklahoma has relatively simple deer hunting season dates. However, the general season dates only apply to antlered deer, which also have lower bag limits. Antlered deer are defined as deer of either sex with at least three inches of antler growth on either side.
Although they have a higher bag limit, the dates for harvesting antlerless deer are more restrictive. There are specific “antlerless days” within the general season dates that vary by zone.
For 2023, the antlerless days are quite extensive because the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has found that doe harvests have been decreasing in recent years leading to an unhealthily low buck-to-doe ratio. Nevertheless, note that the holiday antlerless gun season may be closed in certain zones.
General Season Dates
|Archery||Oct. 1, 2023 – Jan. 15, 2024|
|Youth* Gun||Oct. 20-22, 2023|
|Muzzleloader||Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2023|
|Gun||Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 2023|
|Holiday Antlerless Gun||Dec. 18-31, 2023|
|Zone 1||Zones 2, 7 & 8||Zones 3, 4, 5, 6 &9||Zone 10|
|Archery||Oct. 1, 2023 – Jan. 15, 2024 (all season)||Oct. 1, 2023 – Jan. 15, 2024 (all season)||Oct. 1, 2023 – Jan. 15, 2024 (all season)||Oct. 1, 2023 – Jan. 15, 2024 (all season)|
|Youth Gun||Oct. 20-22, 2023 (all season)||Oct. 20-22, 2023 (all season)||Oct. 20-22, 2023 (all season)||Oct. 20-22, 2023 (all season)|
|Muzzleloader||None||Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2023 (all season)||Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2023 (all season)||Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2023 (all season)|
|Gun||Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 2023 (all season)||Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 2023 (all season)||Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 2023 (all season)||Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 2023 (all season)|
|Holiday Antlerless Gun||Closed||Dec. 18-31, 2023 (all season)||Dec. 18-31, 2023 (all season)||Dec. 18-31, 2023 (all season)|
Oklahoma Bag Limits
Oklahoma has a combined season bag limit of six deer, two of which may be antlered. In other words, if you take four deer in muzzleloader season, you’re limited to harvesting two deer by bow even though the normal archery bag limit is six.
The exception is the holiday antlerless gun season. Deer taken during this season don’t count toward the overall limit of six.
Within the overall bag limit of six, each season has its own bag limit.
|Season||Bag Limit||Antlered Bag Limit|
|Holiday Antlerless Gun||2||N/A|
Oklahoma Deer Hunting License Requirements and Costs
A hunting license is required to hunt deer in Oklahoma with the following exceptions:
- Residents hunting on their own property
- Resident youth hunters under 16 years old, or nonresidents under 14
- Resident disabled hunters confined to a wheelchair
- Resident disabled veterans with a disability rating of at least 60 percent
In addition to the general hunting license, you must also obtain a license for each deer you harvest, specifying the manner of take and sometimes the sex. This is basically a tag, but since Oklahoma calls them both “licenses” it can be a bit confusing. For example, if you’re bowhunting, you need a general hunting license in addition to a deer archery license for each deer you harvest up to the bag limit of six.
Another confusing thing is that Oklahoma annual licenses are valid for the calendar year but archery season extends into January of the following year. This means that to bowhunt from January 1-15, you will need to purchase a new hunting license for that year. However, specific deer archery licenses that you purchase for January but do not fill because you do not successfully harvest a deer can then be used the following fall season.
General License Costs
|Lifetime Combination Hunting/Fishing||$775|
|Lifetime Disabled Veteran Combination Hunting/Fishing||$200|
|Lifetime Senior Citizen Combination Hunting/Fishing||$25|
|Resident 5-Year Combination Hunting/Fishing||$148|
|Resident Annual Combination Hunting/Fishing||$53|
|Resident Annual Youth Combination Hunting/Fishing||$19|
|Lifetime Senior Citizen Hunting||$15|
|Resident 5-Year Disability Hunting||$10|
|Resident 5-Year Hunting||$88|
|Resident Annual Hunting||$32|
|Resident Annual Youth Hunting||$7|
|Nonresident 5-Day Hunting||$75|
|Nonresident Annual Hunting||$176|
Specific License Costs (Tags)
|License||Resident Cost||Nonresident Cost|
|Deer Gun (antlered)||$20||$300|
|Deer Gun (antlerless)||$20||$300|
|Deer Muzzleloader (antlered)||$20||$300|
|Deer Muzzleloader (antlerless)||$20||$300|
|Holiday Antlerless Deer Gun||$20||$300|
|Youth Deer Archery (antlerless)||$10||$31|
|Youth Deer Archery (either sex)||$10||$100|
|Youth Deer Gun (antlered)||$10||$100|
|Youth Deer Gun (antlerless)||$10||$31|
|Youth Holiday Antlerless Deer Gun||$10||$31|
|Youth Muzzleloader (antlered)||$10||$100|
|Youth Muzzleloader (antlerless)||$10||$31|
Getting a license is fairly easy in Oklahoma and can be done online with an electronic account. You will just need to have proof you meet the residency requirements:
- A valid Oklahoma driver’s license at least 60 days old, or six months old in the case of lifetime licenses
- Other documentation such as income tax returns, voter registration, motor vehicle registrations
Members of the military on active duty in Oklahoma are eligible to qualify as residents for annual licenses.
Additionally, all hunters 30 years old or younger must have a hunter education certification to purchase a hunting license in Oklahoma. The only exemptions are for those honorably discharged from the military, those on active duty in the military and members of the National Guard.
Those 30 years old and younger without a hunter education certification can still hunt by obtaining an apprentice-designated license. In this case, they can only hunt deer accompanied by another hunter 18 years old or older with the relevant license and hunter education certification. They must stay within arm’s length of the apprentice hunter at all times.
What Weapons Can You Hunt With in Oklahoma?
Both vertical and crossbows are legal to hunt deer with in Oklahoma. A compound bow must have at least 30 pounds of draw weight, and a recurve or longbow must have at least 40 pounds of draw weight. Crossbows must have at least 100 pounds of draw weight and be equipped with safety devices.
Broadheads for both arrows and crossbow bolts must have a cutting diameter of at least ⅞ inches. Additionally, crossbow bolts must be at least 14 inches long.
Muzzleloading rifles and pistols must shoot at least .40 caliber. They may only fire a single ball or bullet.
Muzzleloading shotguns must be 20 gauge or larger. They may only fire a single slug.
Rifles must be centerfire and shoot at least 55-grain soft-nosed or hollow-point ammunition. There is no restriction on magazine capacity.
All centerfire shotguns shooting a single slug are legal.
All centerfire handguns shooting a single bullet of at least 55 grains are legal, but there is a minimum barrel length of four inches.
Legal archery and muzzleloader equipment may also be used during gun seasons.
Can You Hunt With an AR-15 in Oklahoma?
Yes, you can legally hunt with an AR-15 in Oklahoma as long as you are using 55-grain ammunition. Most AR-15-style rifles use 5.56x45mm or .223 Remington cartridges. This ammunition comes in varying bullet grains, so make sure you use at least 55.
What Types of Deer Are Popular in Oklahoma?
Whitetail deer are by far the most popular type of deer to hunt in Oklahoma, just like in the United States in general. In fact, the most recent 2022-2023 season set a state record for whitetail harvest with over 125,000 takes. This shows that hunting is becoming more popular and successful in the state just like it is across the nation.
Whitetail deer aren’t the only species of deer you can hunt in Oklahoma. Mule deer and elk are also present in the state.
Mule deer are included in the Oklahoma deer hunting season, but they have more restrictions, so do your homework. For instance, you generally cannot take antlerless mule deer with a firearm.
Elk have their own season and permits as well as zone restrictions. Oklahoma is one of the best states for elk hunting with a number of free-ranging herds.
That’s not all, though. Oklahoma is also home to the more distantly related antelope. You can hunt them in a short season beginning in January as long as you obtain the appropriate fees and permits.
What Else Is Popular to Hunt in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma is a great state for hunting with easy-to-navigate regulations and enthusiastic conservation. Moreover, there are a lot of different game animals to enjoy. In addition to deer, elk and antelope, Oklahoma has big game seasons for bears. Other game animals include:
- Migratory birds such as doves and snipes
- Waterfowl such as geese and sandhill cranes
- Small game such as squirrels and rabbits
- Small birds such as quails and pheasants
- Furbearers including beavers, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, etc.
The seasons for these animals can be found on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website.